Saturday, March 19, 2016
On Death and Suicide
I am an avid reader of Doctor Grumpy in the House. As a few of you may know, Dr. Grumpy's father passed away recently due to suicide. Dr. Grumpy writes about the event in this post: Doctor Grumpy in the House: Epilogue. My deepest and most sincere condolences go out to Dr. Grumpy and his family for their loss.
The rest of this communiqué is dedicated to Dr. Grumpy, and describes my own experience with suicide, and my spiritual, philosophical conclusions concerning the disastrous repercussions.
In 1982 one of my co-workers (I'll refer to him as Nelson for privacy reasons) successfully committed suicide. Nelson was 31 years old, and desperately unhappy with his life. He was an emotional, artistic sort who taught ballroom dancing for a living. His clients loved him, as did his co-workers. He had a successful career. His only difficulties that I could see were financial, and possibly with alcohol or substance abuse. He tended to drink a bit more than he should and he smoked a little pot now and then. His real difficulty was his domestic partner. Nelson was gay, and his live-in partner had all the empathy of a chain saw.
So one afternoon Nelson took an overdose of Valium, went for a swim and drowned. And that was that.
Cutting right to the aftermath, I still believe that Nelson could have been saved. He was exhibiting suicidal tendencies for weeks. He had a history of suicide attempts. He tried to talk to me about changing his situation, going to work for another studio in a different city. The day of his death several people had knowledge that Nelson was in serious trouble, and did nothing about it.
My point is that I'm still critical of my own performance. I should have done something, been able to see that something was wrong, that Nelson was in a crises. I failed to do so. What I believe, intellectually, is that I did the same thing that we all do, day in and day out. I did the best I could, and that's that. I should stop beating myself up over this one and get past it.
But it still bothers me.
Not the way it used to. Not as much as, say, last year or the year before. As a good friend of mine says, "The past is past. It's done. Stop living in the past."
So next time I'll know better. The next time that I see behavioral evidence that someone might be considering suicide, I won't hesitate or just write it off to someone having a bad day. I'll pay attention to the people around me. I'll help that person get some psychological treatment. And that will have to be good enough, because it's all I've got.
And that, plus time, is how I deal with the aftermath of Nelson's suicide.
As far as paranormal events go, I'm a believer. I lived in haunted houses twice. I've heard things go bump in the night and seen things that weren't there (sort of). More precisely, I saw things move around that shouldn't have. I have no real explanation for this, but I have heard from a reliable source that earthbound spirits are possible, and as far as he knows, exist.
Concerning life after death, I'll say this, and I state it as fact. Faith has nothing to do with my belief; I don't believe so much as I know the truth of the matter. The obvious fact is that we, all of us, will die. Cash in our chips. Bite the big one. Go when our number's up. When that happens, we as individuals will come face to face with the Lord. The creator of heaven, hell, the entire universe and whatever else might be out there. The Lord is the judge, and will pass judgement on us, listing all the sins we committed in life and allowing the punishment to fit the crime. The only good news here is that the Lord doesn't see any one sin as being worse than any other. So it's off to Hades for you, and it would be for me, too.
There's an escape clause. If, during life, and it doesn't matter when in life you do this, you accept the Lord's son Christ as your savior, you get a pass. Christ did the time for you, for me, for everyone. He did this freely and willingly because He loves us. So in that case, you're saved. You don't stand trial, and you don't get sent to Hades. Instead, you and Christ and the Lord all start shaking hands with all your old friends, and you get to run around Heaven for all eternity. And heaven, being perfectly heavenly, is quite the place.
One important point here is that little matter of timing. Once you accept Christ as your savior, that's it. All your sins are forgiven, and that includes future sins. In the case of a suicide (murder being a sin and all), the answer is yes, you do go to heaven if you've accepted Christ as your savior. If, during the last millisecond of your life, you accept Christ's offer of salvation, you still get in. You're off to heaven, and that's it.
I've done this, by the way. I have accepted Christ as my own personal savior, and I know for a stone cold fact that I'm going to heaven when I die. I also know that the Lord Jesus helps you while you're alive on earth, too. You tend to get help for no real good reason at all when you most need it. Quite often it's miraculous help. I can't list all the examples I've experienced, and believe me, I'm a very cynical person. Just read a few of my prior posts if you don't believe me.
So I'll tell you what, Grump. I think your father is in heaven. Life got to be too much for him, and he ended it. He (likely) didn't think about the amount of suffering his death would bring you and yours, and that was that. What you did for him was provide years of happiness which sustained him throughout his life, and then finally, at the end of his life, you made a hard decision. Very likely the hardest decision you'll ever have to make, but at least you had the knowledge to be able to make it. You did the right thing, and you're a good man. Think about what I've written about the Lord, and make your own decision.
And again, you have my most sincere condolences. I'm very sorry you have to go through this.